ed- Before scrolling on after the first few sentences, this isn't a post about Auburn's sudden recruiting fortunes, such as they are. This is a post (and hopefully the first in a series of posts) dedicated to reconciling my own perceptions with (admittedly crude) statistical work.
I'll give you three guesses what "4," "Receiver," and "Auburn" makes me think of first.
On Friday, Jerry of the JCCW threw his two cents in on the commitment of Four Star WR Jeremy Richardson to Auburn, noting that the Teagles have grabbed the highest profile in state recruit since '07 and have "...received commitments from three different four-star wide receivers in the five months since Chizik and Co. have been in operation." We may scoff at the notion of getting all giggly over a mere four star after Alabama's last two recruiting classes, but let's face it; the last few recruiting classes of the Tubberville era were looking positively Shula-esque, and considering we were all kinds of excited about the 2007 class that saw nary a 5 Star prospect fax his LOI to Tuscaloosa it's no surprise that the sudden influx of offensive talent to a team that hasn't had much luck there lately would get their fans all a twitter. Anyway, the reason I'm bringing this up is because of my own intitial reaction, which ran somewhere along the lines of "a four star receiver? Big deal, ALL receivers are four stars these days." Not entirely sure how I got that idea into my head, I decided I'd go through the recruiting classes of every SEC school to find out just how many four star guys sign each year and see if the numbers validate or bust my perception.
Fist, a note on the methodology. This is in no way any kind of measure in quality of recruiting classes. It completely disregards five star signees (in several cases, Florida and LSU signed only five star guys, which sucks for everyone else) and "athletes" that end up playing receiver, while also crediting the teams with players that never actually made it to campus (Melvin Ray and Destin Hood anyone?). Further, most people are very quick to remind you that three star recruits are quite often productive college players. In fact, of the ten leading receivers in the SEC (in yards per game), only half were four star or higher coming out of high school, so take this as nothing more than a measure of how many four star receivers are routinely signed in the SEC. On to the SEC West:
As you can see, over half the receivers signed by Alabama,
Auburn, and LSU since 2002 were four star receivers, while Alabama and Auburn both have had only one year since 2005 where less than half of their receivers were four star players. As for the rest, not so much. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas combined to sign 13 total four star receivers in the same time period, one less than Auburn only one more than Alabama alone. The perception that every receiver recruit we hear about is a four star is somewhat explained by these numbers, though the reality is way off.
An interesting aside: Considering Auburn has had
the highest a high percentage of four star receivers in the conference since 2002, where is the production? I said earlier it's easy to see why Auburn fans would be excited about an influx of offensive talent, but aside from 2008 (the "character" class that was at least the next to last nail in Tubby's pine box) bringing in four star receiver talent is pretty common on the plains.
ed- As noted in the comments, a typo caused a bit of a miscalculation in the numbers. Auburn actually only had 46% of their receivers rated as four stars, not the SEC leading 58% I had initially figured. The typo doesn't change the fact that, save the "character" '08 class, at least half of Auburn's receivers have been four stars every year since '05.
Now let's look at the SEC East:
Unsurprisingly Vanderbilt has signed zero four star prospects, but most suprisingly Georgia is the only Eastern division team with over 50%. Florida's lower number of four stars has more to do with their higher number of five stars and the recruiting of "athletes," though, so take that with a big grain of salt. All in all, just another exercise in perception vs reality. Alabama and Auburn have signed so many four star receivers over the past few years that it's easy for someone in this state that doesn't pay much attention to recruiting beyond his own team's efforts and the in state kids (i.e. me) to think everyone is doing so. Unfortunately for them, that's just not the case.
Suggestions for future topics are more than welcome.